Bango is finally live on social network Facebook. The U.K.-based direct carrier biller announced its partnership with Facebook in February, and now will provide users who access the social media site from their mobile devices the ability to charge digital content directly to their mobile phone bills.
Like other direct carrier billers, Bango connects developers — in this case, developers creating content on Facebook's platform — with the billing systems of mobile network operators. Direct carrier billing usually costs a developer considerably more than other payment methods; carriers usually charge a significant fee to provide access to their subscribers' bills. But the high cost of direct carrier billing can be offset by access to new markets and higher conversion rates.
For instance, users with little or no access to credit or debit cards, especially younger consumers, can now buy virtual goods such as premium content or digital currencies and have it billed to their mobile account. This younger demographic is a prime audience for gaming and social media sites.
Direct carrier billing offers users a quicker, easier payment flow without the need for a credit card number. Users simply enter their mobile numbers and reply to a text message to verify the purchase. Fewer clicks translates into higher conversion rates.
But Bango brings an additional benefit to Facebook developers. Where other direct carrier billers require users to identify themselves and then verify their identities before a purchase is processed, Bango leverages its presence across app stores, content providers and more than 90 mobile network operators to identify users without all of those steps. The company makes its database of "billable identities" available to any partner company that plugs into Bango's platform. For users in that database, making a purchase is a matter of a single click.
"So a user that may have purchased a song through Shazam in 2010 is likely to be automatically identified when they try to buy Facebook content in 2012," a Bango spokesman said in an email. "We've built up a database of 150 million of those 'billable identities' and we're growing very rapidly. That user won't need an SMS message to verify their identity."
The system does fall back on SMS verification when the user cannot be automatically identified or if the user hasn't created that billable identity yet, the spokesman said.
Reducing purchases to a single click has huge implications for developers. Bango said the average conversion rate for direct carrier billing is around 40 percent. Bango's conversion rate is closer to 77 percent.
"We're delighted to bring Bango's payment experience to Facebook," said Bango CEO Ray Anderson. "As the mobile web experience has matured and improved, consumers are increasingly keen to purchase digital goods on mobile devices. By ensuring a frictionless payment experience, Bango technology is unlocking the business potential of the mobile web."
Bango said it will be going live immediately with carrier billing services for Facebook users in Germany, the U.K and the U.S. Services will be expanded to other countries later this year.
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